Democratic 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson and his Louisiana counterpart are requesting data about the massive layoffs at Ochsner Health System to ensure Black workers and other minorities were not disproportionately impacted.

Thompson and U.S. Rep. Troy Carter of Louisiana penned a letter to Ochsner CEO Pete November last week. The layoffs, which represented about 2% of the health system’s workforce, spanned both Mississippi and Louisiana.

“While only you can make your business decisions, historically these types of actions have disproportionately affected women, and minority communities including Black, Asian, and Hispanic individuals,” the letter stated. 

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) departs a House vote at the U.S. Capitol July 14, 2022. (Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO via AP Images)

“We write today to ensure that the actions taken align with the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, including Equal Protection under the Fourteenth Amendment, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, applicable labor practices and fundamental fairness.”

Thompson and Carter requested specific data, including demographics of the layoffs sorted by race, gender and age; parish of laid off employees; and downsized positions by number, classification and salary.

November on Thursday wrote back to Thompson assuring him that the decision-making process was “deliberate, organized and thorough” and included “ … significant input from legal counsel – to ensure that all our workforce reduction decisions were based on legitimate and objective criteria tied to the business needs of the organization, and that there were no improper disparities in our workforce reduction based on race, gender, or age.”

November also repeated what he said in a memo announcing the layoffs: the positions primarily affected were management and non-direct patient care roles, and employees with clinical credentials were offered frontline patient care roles with an incentive package. 

He referenced the current nationwide nursing shortage and said he is hopeful that employees who were laid off will move into “full-time frontline roles.” 

“We are already working with many clinical employees who have expressed interest in continuing their career at Ochsner, and we have rehired a significant number of affected employees to bedside positions,” he wrote. “ … We are hopeful that many impacted employees who have been in largely administrative roles will move into full-time frontline roles, and we continue to recruit for several hundred unfilled frontline nursing roles across our system.” 

At the end of the letter, November said his team is willing to meet to discuss the specific information Thompson requested.  

When the layoffs were announced last month, a spokesperson for Ochsner Health declined to answer Mississippi Today’s question about how many of the affected positions were in Mississippi.

Ochsner Health has dozens of operations in Mississippi, many of which are in the southern part of the state and on the Gulf Coast. 

The cuts are expected to save between $125 million and $150 million a year, according to, and is the largest such reduction in the hospital system’s history. 

Thompson referred to the “significant federal assistance” Ochsner received in the form of federal pandemic funds and said that constituents have been reaching out to his office.

“The letter was sent in response to the layoffs. They have received significant federal assistance, and we want to ensure that through this phase of reduction, they are fair to all employee concerns,” he said in an emailed statement to Mississippi Today. “As these layoffs occur, we want to ensure that they are fair to the employees. Constituents have reached out to our offices numerous times.” 

He did not answer whether he has asked for similar information from companies in the past.

Carter’s office did not respond to questions and a request for comment from Mississippi Today.

Read the full letter from Thompson here. Read November’s reply here.

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Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.